April 25, 2013
finessing photographic composition – and using off-camera flash vs. available light
With this background, I liked the way the dots were repeated in Olena‘s dress in reverse – white dots on black, instead of black dots / holds on silver. I liked the repetition, and decided to work with the composition of this photograph a bit. For the final sequence of images – of which the image at the top is one – I asked Olena to really exaggerate the curve of her body to create an S-shaped, which in turn contrasted boldly with the rigid pattern of the background.
This article’s original title was going to be: Off-camera flash vs the snobbery of “available light is always better”. When you look at the available light photo of Olena, you’ll see that the available light was pretty sweet – soft and flattering. But it lacked punch. It needed just that little bit of drama to it. The available light shot just looked a touch too bland. Off-camera lighting to the rescue!
I had the flash in a soft box to create flattering, yet dynamic light on her. I wanted her shadow to be more defined and become part of the composition, but that would’ve meant a harder light source. Holding the Lastolite 24″x24″ Ezybox (B&H) fairly close to her was the compromise. This way her shadow added a subtle element to the composition.
March 16, 2013
your photographs are wonderful – you must have a really nice camera
There is an amusing anecdote doing the rounds as a graphic on Facebook and elsewhere – it’s a quote ascribed to Sam Haskins. Now, if you consider the number of quotes that get propagated on Facebook that are ascribed to Morgan Freeman, I’m surprised Sam Haskins even got a mention. But I digress.
The quote relates a story where a photographer smacks down a socialite in New York for some comment about the photographer’s camera. Well, here it is, and it kinda rankles me …
February 27, 2013
your personal photography – aiming for more than just snapshots
This just might be my most favorite photo of my daughter, Janine. It’s from 10 years ago (2003), and she was 9 years old at the time. I was trying out my new Nikon D100, reveling in being able to instantly see any photos I took. We were outside in the garden area of the apartment complex we lived in at the time. With a long focal length, I concentrated on capturing her expression, and a little some of who she was at the time – that interesting blend of confidence and shyness … and a fortunate dose of just indulging her dad with the new toy.
Simplifying the composition, the photo is all about her expression and those soulful eyes. She still has that. But she has grown into a confident young woman.
She’s currently studying to become a Chemical Engineer and doing very well at university. Yup, she’s bright. That obvious intelligence is also blended with an amazing confidence now. She always was independent; even more so now as a young adult. There’s an individualism there that I can see others are drawn towards. Magnetic. It’s astonishing at times to watch her interact with other people with an assuredness I didn’t have until much, much later in my life. I’m very proud of her, and in a large way also in awe of who she is. She’s an incredible person to know. Even more so as her dad.
It’s interesting to look over the older photographs now, trying to recognize traces even then of who she is now.
And if I sound a little nostalgic, I am. She moved out of the house when university started last year, and she has gained momentum with her own life. So we see much less of her now.
While all the memories are intact, the photographs I have of her have an even more powerful resonance now. And I wish I had more photos of her.
Like any new parent, I shot rolls and rolls of film of her as she grew, but this tapered off as she grew older. In a way , as the “newness” of the baby was shed, we became more used to her as being part of the family. She’s just *there* with us; part of us.
Now I wish I had many more photos of her taken during later stages. And not just camera-phone snapshots, but more carefully crafted portraits like this image.
I think there is a danger there – if danger is the proper word – that we reach for our camera phones more readily than before, instead of using a “proper” camera to record events. Make no mistake, I do value having a camera and video-camera as capable as the iPhone on hand, everywhere. In fact, this weekend I surreptitiously recorded a 10 minute video clip as she railed about something. The gestures are amusing. Not that I’d show her now, but to her mother and I, this is an incredibly endearing thing to have. It’s very much her.
While having an iPhone / camera phone on hand is just dandy, I think that as photographers we easily become a little too lazy over time. We gradually start to neglect to properly photograph those who are dear to us with better cameras than just our phones.
So this post is a touch self-indulgent as I reminisce, it’s also a gentle reminder to everyone that there is real value in taking the extra bit of time and effort. We shouldn’t stop taking careful, meaningful portraits of those who touch our lives. With time, we’ll be ever more glad we did.
To counter-balance the sweetness of the photograph at the top, here are a few anecdotes from the past year …
December 21, 2012
wedding photography – where to start building portfolio
I do get some interesting emails and Facebook messages. The strange ones run the whole range from trippy & bizarre, all the way to obscure. One of my favorite weird emails was one that had the title, “Nikon D100″ with the body of the email simply asking, “How do you do that?”
This morning, I saw news that Facebook is once again altering things, including the way that messages are delivered. Paid messages from strangers now seem to be on the horizon. So with that, for the first time in forever, I went through the backlog of messages in the “other” folder. And I saw this message that I show here as a screen-capture.
What bemused me was the polite and respectful tone. And yes, he did ask! Unlike others who have simply used images as they please. I’ve even had my my entire website ripped off. A very ballsy move that they denied to the end. It gets even stranger when you realize my bio is the most plagiarized part of my website! I even directly mention this in the one section. Yup, apparently you can just use my bio as a template by changing a few details. So this request now is an odd combination of sincerity and naiveté. That he even asked, is then a surprise in itself.
Obviously, the main problem here is that someone would even (naively) think it is okay to misrepresent his abilities to potential clients. If you can’t shoot in a certain way, or produce a certain quality of work already, then it is fraudulent to say you can. Your potential clients deserve better!
We can’t ignore that this kind of thinking is very prevalent in the photography industry. It is a regular thing for me to see other photographers on Facebook complain that their images and text were ripped off. It is that rife! There is the Stop Stealing Photos Tumblr blog, where photographers are constantly busted for using photos that aren’t their own. The scary thing is, that site mostly just shows theft of wedding & portrait photography! It’s an avalanche that tedious DMCA take-downs can’t effectively stem.
The culprits just don’t realize that they will be caught. One way or another. Sooner or later. And there can be significant consequences when they are busted, as just one example.
What I find most ironic with all this, is that photographers like to think of themselves as creative people. Yet, there is such a vast number of wannabe photographers who happily steal and misappropriate and plagiarize. Where’s the self-respect?
I’ve even heard of photographers using the sample albums from album companies as their own work. Yup, they’ve all been shooting the same fabulous wedding in Italy.
The disconcerting element to all of this is that two photographs from someone else, could qualify one as a wedding photographer. That, sadly, is how low the bar is!
Mulling over this request, my reaction ranged from amusement, all the way to “are you f’n kidding me?”, back to the idea that this guy, like other aspiring photographers, is struggling with ideas of how to start as a wedding photographer …
November 23, 2012
my experience in using both the Canon and Nikon systems
It seems that whenever I post here about using either Canon or Nikon gear, or when I’m seen with either, that some people are surprised that I’m using the other brand.
Just to mess with everyone, here is a snap of me carrying a Nikon D4 and a Canon 1Dx, each with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. I look like kinda gung-ho there. I certainly do look happy with all those toys … appropriately enough, in front of Toys’R'Us in Times Square. The gleeful smile is mostly because I still have the same enthusiasm and love of the gear as when I first fell in love with a camera, way way back. I love the Art, but I also love the toys.
I know there’s a lot of curiosity about this topic – whether I shoot with Nikon or Canon. Or why I would have both systems. Most people who follow the Tangents blog, will know that I (predominantly) shoot with Nikon. There are specific reasons for that, and that’s the topic of this rambling blog post …
September 5, 2012
critique of rant about photographer’s websites
Your website is most likely the first contact that others have with your work as a photographer. With that in mind, your website is of huge importance in marketing yourself and establishing yourself and your brand. With an ever-proliferating number of websites competing for the attention of any potential visitor, you have a very small opportunity to make an impression and make someone linger a few seconds longer.
Looking at the websites of other photographers (and I am even asked sometimes to do that!), I regularly notice specific problems or areas which can easily be improved. Of course, this is just my opinion. So you might disagree on some of these. But I could still be right.
February 17, 2012
exciting new cameras for photographers
This photo was taken at a recent workshop where I was one of the instructors. I used the new Fuji X10 camera (B&H) and when I zoomed in to check the image sharpness on the camera’s display, I was a little surprised at just how good it looked. Crisp! There wasn’t anything immediately obvious there that would reveal the photo wasn’t taken with A Big Camera.
This article was originally going to be a review of the Fuji X10 camera (B&H). However, with my workload, compiling material for a comparative review between the Fuji X10 and several other Point & Shoot cameras, took longer than I intended. And now we’re at a point where there’s a range of other truly impressive cameras to about to hit the market. With such a fast-paced release of new tantalizing cameras, it felt to me like a single review might’ve become a little redundant a few month later.
Of course, various cameras are aimed at different sectors of the market, so they are not all equal. But if we have a look at the results from this small-sensor Point & Shoot camera, then it’s a real surprise how good the image quality is … and then we have to wonder what the cameras coming up in the next year or so, will deliver.
January 27, 2012
what is holding you back as a photographer?
Over a lunchtime conversation with a photographer friend, the discussion went back to something I’ve prodded her a few times about .. her self-doubt as a photographer. In my estimation she’s a better photographer than she thinks she is, but it is as if she holds back on some decisions to advance her business. Then I asked her, “what are you afraid of?”
September 20, 2011
Jessica, a portrait in Dublin
Hovering somewhere between a snapshot and a candid portrait, I really like this photograph. We were hanging out in the Temple Bar area in Dublin, late late in the evening after the recent workshops in Dublin. When it started to rain, we took shelter under the canopy in front of one of the many pubs there. As Jessica took the first drag of the cigarette, I playfully lifted my camera as if to take a shot, and she reacted with this suitable sneer. And I like the result. I even think it is the kind of image that would’ve worked on an album cover by The Smiths or Morrissey. Just one of those timeless vignettes of life. A moment and gesture that draws you in for a second look.
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September 8, 2011
You’re a photographer, but at a wedding as a guest? Well, then just be a guest.
A recent article on the Off-Beat Bride blog, dealt with the topic of the unplugged wedding. They mention some brides now request guests switch off their cameras, and rather be in the moment and enjoy the wedding. I truly want every photographer, whether professional, amateur, or at any level, to read that article and take it to heart.
If you’ve been to a wedding and observed the people there, you will surely have noticed the barrage of cameras. It is especially prevalent during key moments such as the bride entering the ceremony with her dad. What you’d also notice is that as soon as the bride has swept past any guest with a camera, they are immediately checking their cameras. Engrossed in the image on the back of their cameras with their heads down, they give the bride and groom only a further glance again as something to photograph.